RNLI salutes Jean's half century of fundraising
PUBLISHED: 12:52 24 July 2013 | UPDATED: 12:52 24 July 2013
An Exmouth grandmother has been honoured for her half a century of fundraising for lifeboat charity the RNLI.
Jean Harris, 79, of Halsdon Avenue, was presented with a certificate at an RNLI regional awards ceremony.
Now she has stepped down from the Exmouth RNLI Guild after 50 years.
During that time she has raised more than £5,000 through organising catering at fundraising swimming galas and through her cookery demonstrations.
Jean has also chosen to retire from her role at Exmouth Community College, where she has taught home economics for the last 25 years.
She says that her five decades of commitment to the lifeboat charity was a natural result of her lifetime of links with the sea.
Jean first learnt how to row when she was a young girl growing up in Exmouth, often rowing across the River Exe from Shelly Beach to Dawlish Warren.
She only stopped using a boat around five years ago when she was 75.
She said: “I grew up spending holidays in the family bungalow at Shelly Beach.
“Our family have always had boats. When I was 17 or 18 my father said if I wanted to be able to handle a boat I needed to learn how to strip down an engine.
“There were no ship-to-shore radios in those days, and I needed to know how to fix the problem if I got into trouble.”
Jean continued to fundraise when she moved to the West Midlands with her husband Phil – despite being hundreds of miles away from Exmouth.
She trained and worked as a teacher, before retiring and returning to Exmouth aged 54.
She then took up a post at the community college and also worked in the youth office, after-school clubs, and even took Saturday classes.
Now she is looking forward to spending more time with her four grandchildren and an expected great-grandchild.
“I am strong believer that what goes around comes around, and if you do a good turn it comes back to you,” said Jean.
“I’ve always been busy and active and had a lot of energy, but I think the time is right to retire, and I want to do less.”
She added: “I really am going to try and retire! It might be easier said than done.”